EVALUATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: COMPARISON BETWEEN FRESH AND PROCESSED TOMATOES

G. Palma, M. Belhanafi, M. Padilla, F. Fort
Several studies emphasize that agriculture and food as a whole are responsible for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, as a central actor in the food supply chain, consumers play a very important role as their food behaviour can be highly polluting. However, few studies focus on the environmental impact of consumer behaviour or investigate which action has the greatest consequences.
The purpose of this study is to analyse consumer practices, from purchase to final waste. Fresh and processed tomatoes were chosen as examples of general fruit and vegetables, and their environmental impact measured. Four impact categories were adopted: acidification, eutrophication, global warming and human toxicity. Results regarding fresh tomatoes clearly indicate that purchasing has the highest environmental impact for all 4 categories of impacts. Such an impact is mainly due to transport from supermarket to household (generally by car). Also in the case of processed tomatoes purchasing is responsible for a great share of the impact , but cooking and end of life phases are also very important, namely for acidification and global warming the former, and human toxicity the latter.
If we compare fresh tomatoes with processed tomatoes, the latter have a greater impact in all 4 categories. GHG emissions at consumer level are 0.07 kg CO2 eq for fresh tomatoes and 0.18 kg CO2 eq for processed tomatoes, while human toxicity levels are 25 times higher for the latter. However, if we take into consideration the fact that 6 kg of fresh tomatoes are needed for 1 kg of processed tomatoes, the results can be seen in a different light. In this case, the impact of fresh tomatoes (global warming potential) is 2.3 times higher than that of processed tomatoes. Finally, if we calculate CO2 emissions generated by making equal quantities of tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes or rather with tomato paste, results are equal.
Palma, G., Belhanafi, M., Padilla, M. and Fort, F. (2013). EVALUATION OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR: COMPARISON BETWEEN FRESH AND PROCESSED TOMATOES. Acta Hortic. 971, 195-202
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.971.23
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2013.971.23
LCA, tomato, GHG emissions, purchasing behaviour, transport
English

Acta Horticulturae